We're so excited to share the experience of our latest local find, the Wine Kitchen in picturesque, historic downtown Leesburg. This 1860s-era renovated wine bar will be by far one of our favorites places to go back to. The food was spectacular, not to mention the lively atmosphere. We are delighted to have found a place with a downtown D.C. flair without the big city surroundings. We felt like we were walking into one of those narrow tapas bars in the streets of northern Spain's San Sebastian: full of life, good food, and the simple enjoyment of life over the sound of happy voices and laughter. We love the Wine Kitchen's saying "wine was made for food and food was made for wine," just what a French person would say!
The restaurant is beautifully decorated with warm colors, and the walls are custom painted with red leaves and vines. The place only seats 35 people, so we highly suggest you come early on the weekend or come during the week, as it can get pretty noisy and crowded on a Saturday night. Although, we would have to say that the small space packed with people is what gives this place its charm and lively atmosphere. We were lucky enough to get seated at the bar, which we highly recommend to take in the full atmosphere ...even on a romantic date night. By the time we left, there were several people standing up enjoying a glass of wine while they were waiting to be seated. With such great food and atmosphere, it's no wonder this restaurant was voted as one of the top 50 Best Restaurants in 2012 by the Northern Virginia Magazine.
What a pleasant surprise! Beautifully presented with care, elegant yet simple. Their menu is full of delicious dishes, including artisanal cheeses, small plates of fresh fish and seafood, and fare composed of local produce and meat from local pastures. They remain true to their mission: "to search out the highest quality, freshest, most delicious ingredients, and prepare them in their most honest form."
Several dishes stood out for us: Mussels Creole, Coq au Vin, Braised Rabbit Ragout, and Chicken & Waffles among others. We decided to order the Mussels Creole and Braised Rabbit Ragout. The Mussels Creole was delicious, served with crawfish and chorizo with the perfect spicy kick - one of those dishes you really don't want to share with your spouse and want to order again immediately after having just finished your plate. From tasting the food, you can really tell that the ingredients are fresh. The Braised Rabbit Ragout was made with house-made tagliatelle, truffle oil and complemented with garlic toast.
Their Chocolate-Hazelnut Torta Palla, made by local caterer Sweetz Bakery, was absolutely outstanding. The chocolate cake balls were served with whipped cream, drizzled with warm caramel and stopped with hazelnuts. We also ordered their selection of three aritsanal goat cheeses, one from Wisconsin paired with fresh pesto, one from Spain paired with a spicy coulis and one from Maryland's Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Company paired with a delicious raspberry coulis.
Their dishes are definitely meant to be matched with their wide-range of wines, which they categorize into White of Fancy, Tuesday Night Reds, the Plains of Spain, The Hills of Italy, Pinot Envy, Rockn' Reds, Bubble-icous, Roll Out of the Red Carpet, Out of Africa, and Local Flavor. Their wine selection spans many wine regions from Argentina to California, Chile, France, Italy, Oregon, South Africa, Spain, Virginia and Washington state. They also offer a few craft ales for those that prefer beer. Wine can be ordered by the bottle, glass or two-ounce taste. If you would like to purchase a bottle to take home, you can do so for $10 less than the bottle price on the menu. For those wanting a little bit of adventure, you can opt for their Flights of Wine, where you can sample three different wines from one of their labeled groups. Each wine serving comes with a very nice information card for your enjoyment.
With our dinner, we decided to order a flight of three local wines: a 2012 Reserve Chardonnay from Sunset Hills (Purcellville), a 2009 Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon from Tarara Winery (Leesburg) and a 2010 Cabernet Franc from Pollak Vineyards (Monticello). The Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon went perfectly with the Mussels Creole dish. The accompanying card described the wine as, "a red that is bursting at the seams with ripe cherry and strawberry fruit flavors [..] Cherry and fresh but with just enough smoke and dark plumb flavors that let you know it's not summer quite yet." The Chardonnay paired very well with the Chocolate-Hazelnut Torta Palla dessert with flavors of apple, tropical fruit and hints of spice and vanilla.
This is one of those places that makes us want to come back time after time. Not only do they donate part of their weekday lunch proceeds to a local clinic that helps Loudoun County residents who would otherwise do without health care services, but they also have strong partnerships with local farmers and businesses to bring simple yet delicious food to the table. Their partners include Ayrshire Farm, Baker Farms, Lothar's Gourmet Sausage, Green Alchemy Herb & Mercantile, Singing Frog Farm, Quarter Branch Farm, Martin's Angus Beef, Sweetz Bakery, and Tuscarora CO-OP. This local business has a true commitment to quality and truly embraces the spirit of community by supporting local vendors throughout the area.